The average Fijian family lives on A$150 a week. They’re probably not paying Sydney housing mortgage or rental prices but they’re unlikely to be living it up. The great news is that for just $4,997 the head of the family or one of their bright kids can learn all about leadership from our very own Julie Bishop in this five day retreat.

The retreat’s co-founder, Paul Roos, ex-AFL legend, has obviously found a niche for his talent in rugby mad Fiji. In order help the Fijian economy and its people, Julie turned away from a position on the Rio Tinto board, tilting at the Governor Generalship or the lesser role of Governor of her own state of Western Australia. I bet Hardies would find a spot for her too.

This event, held at the 5 star Intercontinental luxury resort, will include yoga classes, mindfulness and meditation training in venue adjacent to “one of the world’s most beautiful beaches”. Other unnamed speakers and business leaders will join Fijian aspirationals to make this a memorable five days. Book now if the Fijians haven’t snatched all the rooms for themselves.

ASIC chairman James Shipton has taken the extraordinary step of inviting 20 of Australia’s leading businesses to engage in a project aimed at improving corporate culture. A futile task you might say but it is going ahead, anyway. An organisational therapist, Elizabeth Arzadon, is to sit in board meetings and observe behaviour, in particular, how directors interact with management. Presumably, outside of the meeting, a number of questions will be asked such as: How are directors and officers ensuring that they know enough about the entity to ask the right questions? How do they know what they are not being told?

Whether this will result in anything more than a beautifully dressed window remains to be seen. That will, in part, depend on whether ASIC actually wants to improve corporate culture. There have been few indications of this up until now.

Already, the project has its opponents such as David Murray, the post Royal Commission head of AMP. He noted, in a quantum physics moment, you can’t NOT change the behaviour of the board when you have an outsider in the room. Putting aside that change within AMP board is probably desirable, if I were chairman I might be worried about what new disasters an open boardroom might reveal. In clarifying for us the role of directors he explained they are to work in the interests of the company including customers, shareholders and employees. This is something his company hasn’t been able to achieve to date. Send the psychologist to AMP first and don’t tell them when she’s coming.

How much does a 1/4 page advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald cost? It is probably not as expensive as it was five years ago but certainly is a long way from free. That question occurred to me when I saw a Smith Family promotion telling me that “Abby believes poor is all she’ll ever be”. My first thought was what sort of society would lead a child to such a negative place. How did it make me feel? Desperate to reach out to Abby? How much does she need?

I decided to find out just why young Abby might have such a poor view of her prospects. Firstly, I am tipping like in previous Smith Family advertisements, Abby is a young actress. The story of her life is typical enough but is probably made up. Here are the key elements designed to turn us into donors:

  • Abby’s Dad had a stroke;
  • Mum and Dad have been hard workers in the past.
  • Mum is still a hard worker but has put her “career” on hold
  • Mum cares for Dad and has a cleaning job during school hours
  • The family has moved out of area to a new and smaller home
  • The family has no money for proper uniforms and school supplies, activities or excursions.

After reading this I was simply angry. Angry that anyone could think that this is a problem for a charity. a charity where staff are probably underpaid and where there is often a contrived conflict between their pay and what is available for those in need. This is not a charity sized problem. A family like Abby’s medical and school expenses are not going to addressed by a charity. This is nothing more than government initiated crowdfunding. These are Federal Government issues.

What we are looking at is the John Howard model of welfare. Howard sought to remove critics of his government by putting them on the payroll and linking government support to acquiescence. When he came to power, Christian organisations that took their role too seriously were casting his government in a poor light. So he set about changing the relationship. The extent of his vision is evident in the proliferating calls for public support from the Smith Family, Vinnies, Salvation Army, Mission Employment and others. Even unemployment is considered the responsibility of charities which is really a futile task when available jobs heavily outnumber those seeking work.

Abby’s Mum is carefully scripted as having a job. That’s indeed fortunate. Had she been unemployed, not only would she and her family have been truly desperate, she may have been deemed lazy and unworthy. The pitch has to be perfect. If you still want to donate, consider your options here.

Remember the supposed Mediscare run by Labor before the 2016 election? In the recent Federal election, this was used to justify the Liberal death taxes and the ridiculous suggestion that removing franked dividends was a tax. It has been commonly accepted that Labor ran a scare in 2016. A number of ABC startlets took this position in presenting Mediscare as duplicitous. Labor hopefuls had no hope of deflecting the charge when the force of commercial media AND the ABC were arraigned against them.

Well, I can tell you it is more than a scare. Last time I went to a doctor for a regular consultation, the entire fee was covered by Medicare. This time it cost $66. That was scarey. It requires a desperately limited sense of history not to recognise the Liberal Party’s resentment and ultimate designs to destroy our universal health system.

They will tolerate it while it is electorally dangerous not to do so. However, like the full employment program that ran from 1942-74 in Australia, it will be removed when the time is opportune. That policy was deeply resented by the Menzies Government but fear of popular backlash kept it in place. It required a Labor Government to remove it in the mid-1970s and we have been demonising the unemployed ever since.

Is a well paid dill.

Warren Ross

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